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McTeague Argumentative Essay

The novel, McTeague, written by Frank Norris has many ways to understand the
events. The relationships between the characters in the story are strange. First, it seems
that the first half of the story many of the characters come together. For example, Marcus
and McTeague become friends, Trina and McTeague get married, Maria and Zerkow get
married. As the story ends, the friendships of the characters breaks down into violence
and death. First, Zerkow killed Maria and himself, next McTeague kills Trina, and then
Marcus tracks down McTeague in the desert and they both die as McTeague kills Marcus
and then dies himself of dehydration. It seems the strong survive and the weak die. In this
case the strong survive longer than the weak. The theme that connects most of the
conflicts together is that of greed.
Greed is one of the three major themes in the novel “McTeague”. McTeague
shows the dangers of greed and how it can get the best of you. This novel shows how
money can make you from a caring person into a evil person. Zerkow was greatly
obsessed with gold and riches. The same obsession for money was in all of the
characters. Zerkow was viewed as a “lost” soul and Trina as a proper young lady, yet they
were both almost exactly alike. Here are some quotes on greed. “Miser, nasty little old
miser. You’re worse than old Zerkow, always nagging about money, money, and you got
five thousand dollars. You got more, an’ you live in that stinking hole of a room, and you
won’t drink any decent beer.” “She don’t care if I get wet and get a cold and die. No, she
don’t, as long as she’s warm and got her money.” Greed in the novel is one of the
strongest point. Social Darwinism’s problem is having to keep on gaining in order to have
the things you can not possible have. Once the greed shows you get what you want, you
might not get what you really need. Greed is a part of our life too, not just in the book.

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Social Darwinism is the second of three major themes in the novel, “McTeague”,
written by Frank Norris. In McTeague’s town people are judged by how much money they
have. When McTeague was not married to Trina he was living just as he thought he
should. He lived at a comfortable level for himself. But when Trina married him, she
brought her views on living into their marriage. Trina moved McTeague up money wise.

He left his old habits for more expensive habits. He stopped drinking steam beer and
replaced it with bottled beer which was more expensive. With Trina’s lottery winnings
they could have moved up the social ladder, but Trina refused to spend her winnings on
anything. Since Trina did not want to spend this money and McTeague lost his job, they
could not live at their previous standards. Without McTeague’s job they could not stay at
their level in society, so they again moved down. The problem for McTeague and Trina is
that they spent to much of their money, they no longer acted. This idea is shown in the
following quotes where McTeague is shown to rich tastes which he never would have
missed since he did not have them before, but once they were introduced to him by Trina
these luxuries were missed even more. This quote is how McTeague misses the luxury.

“But he sadly missed and regretted all those little animal comforts which in the old
prosperous life Trina had managed to find for him. He missed the cabbage soups and the
steamed chocolate that Trina had taught him to like; he missed the Sunday afternoon
walks that she has caused him to substitute in place of his nap in the operating chair…”
Social Darwinism is a big problem in the novel “McTeague”.

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The story of McTeague, by Norris, shows many examples in which the physical
description of the characters are used to show that the behavior of them is like animal
instincts. For example, in the description of McTeague, Norris writes: “For
McTeague was a young giant, carrying his huge shock of blond hair six feet three inches
from the ground; Moving his immense limbs, heavy with ropes of muscle, slowly,
ponderously. His hands were enormous, red, and covered with a fell of stiff, yellow hair;
they were hard a wooden mallets, strong as vises, the hands of the old-time car boy.

Often he dispensed with forceps and extracted a refractory tooth with his thumb and
finger. “His head was square cut, angular; the jaw silent, like that of the carnivore.

McTeague’s mind was as his body, heavy, slow to act, sluggish. Yet there was nothing
vicious about the man. Altogether he suggested the draft horse, immensely strong, stupid,
docile, obedient.” Another example is the comparison of McTeague as a raging elephant
in pain. “The brute that in McTeague lay so close to the surface leaped instantly to life,
monstrous, not to be resisted. He sprang to his feet with a shrill and meaningless clamor,
totally unlike the ordinary bass of his speaking tones. It was the hideous yelling of a hurt
beast, the squealing of a wounded elephant. He framed no words; in the rush of high-
pitched sound that issued from his wide-open mouth there was nothing articulate. It was
something no longer human; it was rather an echo from the jungle.” There is another
animal struggle in this story and it is between McTeague and Marcus, McTeague’s long
time friend. The struggle does not become clear until Trina becomes rich by winning a
lottery. The two men were grappling at each other. The party could hear them yelling and
grunting as they fought and struggled. Their boots tore up great clods of turf. They came
to the ground with power. But even as they were in the act of falling, Marcus twisted in
the dentist’s clasp and fell on his side. McTeague crashed down upon him. With his huge
salient chin digging into Marcus’s shoulder, the dentist heaved and tugged. His face was
flaming, his huge shock of yellow hair fell over his forehead, matted with sweat. Marcus
began to slow down despite his frantic efforts. One shoulder was down, now the other
began to go; gradually, gradually it was forced over. Mad because of his defeat at the
hands of the dentist and before Selina’s eyes, he was still furious. With the oath Marcus
had twisted his head and had bitten through the lobe of the dentist’s ear. There was a
sudden flash of bright-red blood… The brute that in McTeague lay so close to the surface
leaped instantly to life, monstrous, not to be resisted. He sprang to his feet with a shrill
and meaningless clamor, totally unlike the ordinary bass of his speaking tones. It was the
hideous yelling of a hurt beast, the squealing of a wounded elephant. He framed no
words; in the rush of high-pitched sound that issued from his wide-open mouth there was
nothing articulate. It was something no longer human; it was rather an echo from the
jungle. This story puts animal characteristics in the male characters of the story,
especially McTeague. The beast in man takes over again. The characters in the novel are
used to show that the behavior of them are connected to some hidden animal instinct.
In the novel, written by Frank Norris, there was three definite themes. One of
them was Norris linking the characters to animal instincts. Norris used many quotes to
imply this. The second theme was social Darwinism. All of the characters wanted money.

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They did not know they wanted money until they were introduced to luxury. They third
and obvious theme was greed. The greed from money made most of the characters into
terrible human beings. Everyone was jealous of everybody else. The three major themes
in the novel “McTeague” are greed, social Darwinism, and characters being linked into
animals.


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McTeague Argumentative Essay
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Artscolumbia
The novel, McTeague, written by Frank Norris has many ways to understand the
events. The relationships between the characters in the story are strange. First, it seems
that the first half of the story many of the characters come together. For example, Marcus
and McTeague become friends, Trina and McTeague get married, Maria and Zerkow get
married. As the story ends, the friendships of the characters breaks down into violence
and death. First, Zerkow killed Maria and himself, ne
2018-12-27 03:25:31
McTeague Argumentative Essay
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